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Week 1 Receivers
WR Notes: Cooper Kupp, Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson. Rank them however you like for Week 1. They are a tier above everyone else. … It seems the industry re-settled on Davante Adams as the consensus WR4 this summer, and I agree. The Chargers matchup for his Raiders debut got a whole heck of a lot easier when J.C. Jackson (ankle) was deemed unlikely to play. … Is CeeDee Lamb ready for his closeup? With Michael Gallup (knee) still sidelined, 10-12 Lamb targets would seem to be a necessity for a game with a 51 over/under. … Deebo Samuel was one of the most polarizing players of the summer. Yes, his rushing efficiency is unlikely to be replicated. Yes, his rushing volume is unlikely to be duplicated. We should also maybe remember that Samuel was second in the league in receiving before the 49ers made him a part-time running back. Provided Trey Lance keeps the car on the road — no sure thing — Samuel should still have the WR1 tools needed to offset his coming rushing regression.
On the other side of the Samuel coin is A.J. Brown. Where fantasy managers fear decreased passing volume for the 49ers, they are hoping for the opposite in Philadelphia. The runaway star of Eagles camp, Brown always has a top-five receiving season in his range of potential outcomes. The Lions are a good place to start. … Far less efficient last season — his yards per route run fell from 2.51 to 1.91 — Stefon Diggs gets on the “comeback trail” against … Jalen Ramsey. Not ideal, though the Rams' star corner could also see a healthy helping of third-year pro Gabe Davis. Both wideouts have upside to spare in a contest currently totaled at 52. … How the Dolphins deploy Tyreek Hill vs. Jaylen Waddle is one of the Week 1 usage mysteries I am most anxious to solve. There has been a belief that Hill will get in on the YAC goodness native to Mike McDaniel's Shanahan-inspired system, but man, Waddle was such a natural in the underneath role last season. Would it be the craziest thing if Hill ultimately ceded most of that work to Waddle? Hill did at least see more short-to-intermediate targets in 2021, greasing the skids for a potential transition. For his part, Waddle seems likely to play through his minor quad injury.
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For all the focus on Matt Ryan's inability to find Julio Jones and Kyle Pitts for touchdowns, it can sometimes be easy to forget just how many WR1s this man has supported over the years. Man-dominator Michael Pittman should be the next wideout up. … Chris Godwin (knee) is practicing in full. Although that strongly suggests he will be ready for Sunday night's opener against the Cowboys, I will still do a snap count hedge for a wideout who only recently ramped up his activity. Mike Evans remains a WR1 vs. gambling Trevon Diggs and company. Elsewhere in the Bucs' receiver corps, Russell Gage (hamstring) seems likely to play, rendering Julio Jones a WR4 dart throw. … Diontae Johnson (shoulder) has stopped well short of guaranteeing he will play vs. the Bengals. His loss would elevate George Pickens into the top 48 and Chase Claypool into the top 40. … I spent the summer moving Mike Williams higher in my rankings. As much as I like sophomore Josh Palmer, there just isn't much target competition in this offense behind the big three of Williams, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. Williams should have plenty of big-play opportunities against the Raiders.
Marquise Brown converted plenty of chunk gains with Lamar Jackson, but he is playing with a different kind of deep-ball thrower in Kyler Murray, one who can deliver the ball in stride on non-designed shots. For better or worse, I am a firm believer in Hollywood taking his next step. … Jerry Jeudy strikes me as such a good Russell Wilson fit on paper — someone most comfortable in the slot who can nevertheless make plays down the field — but the summer observations from Broncos camp were unanimous that Courtland Sutton is Wilson's preferred target. Now another year removed from his torn ACL, Sutton's sideline skill-set is a perfect match with Wilson's throwing proclivities. … As for the wideouts Wilson left behind, I am buying into the narrative that DK Metcalf is Geno Smith's guy. It makes sense. Smith is a sub-par quarterback, and Metcalf is the kind of target any QB can hit. Good though he is, Tyler Lockett's subtler game does not align well with Smith's more-limited abilities. … For all the talk about Matthew Stafford being the best quarterback of Allen Robinson's career, there isn't as much chatter about A-Rob being a huge upgrade in the Rams' No. 2 spot. It is those facts aligning that have Robinson back in the WR2 mix.
Miles ahead of any other Chiefs wideout atop the depth chart, JuJu Smith-Schuster begins his KC career with a plus matchup in a plus-plus scoring environment. … Amon-Ra St. Brown no longer has the Lions' receiver corps all to himself. That should be a good thing if D.J. Chark is still capable of commanding defensive respect on the outside. Fantasy managers should still be thinking more 5/60 than last year's 6/90 with ARSB. … If summer reports are to be believed, Brandin Cooks is no longer alone in the Texans' receiver corps, with sophomore Nico Collins at least putting himself in the mix for down-field shots and big-play opportunities. … Allen Lazard (ankle) and Drake London (knee) are amongst this week's biggest injury concerns. Any missed time would be a damaging blow to Lazard's seeming standing atop the Packers' remade depth chart. The last thing he needed was to allow any openings to the odd mix of veterans and rookie young guns behind him. Fourth-round playmaker Romeo Doubs is the closest thing to a next man up. As for the Falcons, if London can't play, the next man up is supplications to a higher being. … Michael Thomas (hamstring) seems on track to play. Michael Thomas seems on track to play a lot, though.